International Journal of Qualitative Methods
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Global health’s persistent focus on women’s health-seeking behaviour necessitates a philosophical understanding of the meaning behind women’s health decision-making. In studying health-seeking behaviour, researchers use philosophical paradigms to explicate and understand complex social concepts that continue to maintain health inequities and injustices. A commonly used theory is Bourdieu’s Theory of Practice. This paper examines the scholastic application of Bourdieu’s theory of practice to theorize women’s health-seeking behaviour in qualitative research to understand the rationale behind using health services. The theory of practice consists of four concepts: practice, habitus, field, and capital. Each concept conceptualizes the theory to find a logical meaning for social practices. The theory uses a relational approach between agency and structure to account for social life. The goal is to develop a theoretical framework from a feminist perspective to understand how women seek care with contextual factors that can inhibit or outrightly limit their agency. Researchers limit cultural capital’s role in linking health-seeking behaviour to economic capital in health disparities. Additionally, in formulating women’s health policies without adequate consideration of women’s experiences and preferences, such policies become patriarchal, where men assume an expert knowledge of women’s health, failing to recognize the diversity of experiences. In our quest to develop new theories as feminist researchers, we must acknowledge these taken-for-granted assumptions and address them.
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